Tokyo Olympic marathon moved to Sapporo over heat concerns

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On the heels of world championship marathons that saw many runners drop out in the Qatar heat, even with the races being run at midnight, the International Olympic Committee said Wednesday that the 2020 Olympic marathon and race walks will be moved from host city Tokyo to Sapporo in search of cooler weather.

Only 40 of 68 starters finished the women’s marathon in Qatar, which had a starting temperature of 32.7 degrees Celsius (91 degrees Fahrenheit) with 73.3 percent humidity, putting the heat index at 111 degrees Fahrenheit. In the 2017 world championships in London, 78 of 92 runners completed the course. In the 2016 Olympics in Rio, only 24 of 157 runners failed to finish.

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(The men’s marathon in Qatar was run on a cooler evening, and 55 of 73 runners finished.)

The race walks in Tokyo are set for July 31, Aug. 7 and Aug. 8. The marathons will be run Aug. 2 and Aug. 9. This year, the high temperatures in Tokyo for those dates ranged from 93 degrees Fahrenheit to 96; the lowest temperature for the whole week was 78 degrees Aug. 5. In Sapporo, the average high for August is 79 degrees.

Sapporo has already hosted Olympic action — the 1972 Winter Olympics. 

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